Getting to Australia using American Airlines miles is no easy task. But two relatively obscure partners increase your odds of finding a way there for a reasonable price.
When searching for award space using your AA miles you must look beyond aa.com. Key partners, both inside the one oneworld alliance and out, do not display on the American website. We’ll just focus on the South Pacific here.
Using your AA miles you can to Australia or New Zealand the following ways:
- American (LAX-SYD/AKL)
- Air Tahiti Nui (LAX-PPT-AKL)
- Cathay Pacific (LAX/SFO/YVR/ORD/YYZ/EWR/JFK/BOS-HKG-PER/CNS/BNE/ADL/MEL/SYD/AKL)
- Ethiad (LAX/SFO/DFW/ORD/YYZ/IAD/JFK-AUH-SYD/MEL/PER/AKL)
- Fiji Airways (SFO/LAX/HNL-NAN-AKL/MEL/BNE/SYD)
- Hawaiian (HNL-SYD/MEL/BNE/AKL)
- JAL (LAX/YVR/SAN/SFO/ORD/DFW/JFK/BOS-TYO-SYD)
- LATAM (SCL-AKL-SYD)
- Qatar (LAX/DFW/IAH/ORD/YYZ/BOS/JFK/IAD/ATL/MIA-DOH-SYD/MEL/ADL/PER/AKL)
- Qantas (LAX/SFO/DFW/HNL/JFK-SYD, LAX-BNE/MEL)
How many of those appear on aa.com?
Only the American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Qantas space. While Cathay Pacific, JAL, Etihad, and Qatar offer a great product, because of AA’s arcane routing rules you rarely save points flying on these carriers because the “out of the way” routing means AA charges extra miles. As a general rule, American does not let you transit a third region between origin and destination. For example, flying to the USA (region one) to Australia (region two) via Asia (region three) will be billed as two awards: USA to Asia, then Asia to Australia.
Qantas is great in theory, but rarely releases space. Hawaiian Airlines is charged as two awards because Hawaii is considered a different zone.
Two Hidden Partners: Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways
Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways do not take extra miles–you can connect through these cities for no additional miles. That alone makes them attractive options, but even better is the ample award space routinely available.
Both offer excellent award space when booking in advance, no fuel surcharges, and schedules specifically tailored for transferring to Australia or New Zealand. Air Tahiti Nui only flies as far as Auckland, but you can add a Qantas connection to anywhere in Australia for no additional miles.
As a reminder, economy class is 40K one-way in economy class and 80K one-way in business class.
How to Check for Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways Award Space
Both Air Tahiti Nui and Fiji Airways space can be checked using ExpertFlyer. Not only can you check award space, but if space is not available on your desired flight you can set an alert so ExpertFlyer can monitor the space for you. Should the space later open, you will receive an email alert.
AA does not permit complimentary stopovers (a connection of 24 hours or more) on award bookings, but you can always pay extra miles to spend a few days in either Fiji or Tahiti during your travels between the USA and Australia/New Zealand. Both are beautiful countries with friendly people. Fiji is much more reasonably priced than Tahiti.
Getting to Australia is tough using your AA miles, but if you aware of the many hidden partner options it becomes more manageable. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the AA website offers all available award space, because it does not. Instead, note the partner options I have listed above and call AA to book space. In terms of value, Fiji Airways and Air Tahiti Nui are difficult to beat.